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Sur - Revista Internacional de Direitos Humanos

Print version ISSN 1806-6445


VIEIRA, Oscar Vilhena. Inequality and the subversion of the Rule of Law. Sur [online]. 2007, vol.3Selected edition, pp. 0-0. ISSN 1806-6445.

The idea of Rule of Law has become almost unanimously embraced in our days. For human rights advocates, Rule of Law is perceived as an indispensable tool to avoid discrimination, and arbitrary use of force. But, how does profound and persistent social and economic inequality impact the integrity of the Rule of Law? The main objective of this essay is to try to understand the effects of the polarization of poverty and wealth on the legal system, especially in relation to one of the core ideals of the Rule of Law: that people should be treated impartially by the law and by those responsible for its implementation. By revising a substantive and a formalist conception of the Rule of Law, I will try to provide some explanation about why states and people would comply with the Rule of Law standards. The article will also consider the impact of extreme and persistent inequality over the Rule of Law, using my familiarity with the Brazilian experience as an example. In the final section, the focus will be on how even an incomplete Rule of Law system can be employed or challenged to empower the invisible, humanize the demonized, and bring the immune back to the realm of law. This paper will be also published at Thomas Pogge (ed.). A human right to be free from poverty: its role in politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Keywords : Rule of Law; Democratic regimes; Legal system; Social and economic inequality; Brazilian experience.

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